The Not-So-Obvious Threats to Lung Health

The Not-So-Obvious Threats to Lung Health
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After being diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis, I became a pro at protecting my lungs. Or so I thought.

Even now, 18 years later, I’m still discovering threats I had overlooked.

October is “Healthy Lung Month” in the U.S. Leaving my pulmonologist’s office all those years ago, I thought I had lung wellness down: Don’t smoke, make sure to exercise, get regular checkups. But potential respiratory hazards don’t always come from obvious places. 

Rolling along in ignorance

For instance, a musty odor coming from my car vents last week made me think about replacing the cabin air filter. Turns out, it should be changed every 12,000 to 30,000 miles, depending on your car and driving habits, carfax.com said. 

The filter keeps contaminants like dust, smog, pollen, and exhaust fumes from spewing inside. People like me, with allergies and respiratory issues, should consider changing it as frequently as every 5,000 miles, the site recommended. 

Brushing up on prevention

This is also “National Dental Hygiene Month.” I know some chose to skip the dentist this year, but I didn’t. I was 10 years into managing sarcoidosis when I learned about the link between oral health and overall wellness. 

I was being treated for dry mouth caused by the dozen or so medications I was on, when my dentist told me the risks. Oral hygiene and saliva both play roles in keeping harmful bacteria at bay that can lead to health issues, as the Mayo Clinic explained. 

Endocarditis and cardiovascular disease are among the conditions poor oral health can contribute to. Connections with pulmonary disease, specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia, have also been found, according to an article published in the British Dental Journal in 2017. 

That’s why seeing my dentist every six months, even in the midst of a pandemic, was important to me. 

Seasons of sneezing

Allergies, which I wrote about in spring, is another area where I dropped the ball. I didn’t find out until last year that my year-round misery was being caused partly by dust mites. 

Dust mites are “one of the most common indoor allergens” and can trigger asthma and other symptoms, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said.

Finding out led to numerous changes, including washing my sheets in hot water instead of cold. In making changes to combat allergies, I discovered that materials in bedding also carry risks. 

Long-term exposure to feathers can cause an inflammatory response in the lungs in some, called feather duvet lung, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It can result from goose or duck feathers in linens and even feathers and droppings from pet birds, they warn. 

We can’t control the pathway of our sarcoidosis. But we can make every effort to protect our lungs, which are affected in more than 90 percent of us. I’m still discovering ways to do that. If you know other less obvious risks, please let me know. 

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Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Gearing up for sarcoidosis: The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research is selling new gear to raise awareness about sarcoidosis and to support their mission. Mugs, water bottles, face masks, drawstring bags, wristbands, and assorted apparel are available at the foundation’s online store, launched last month. 
  • Complimentary comedy: Montreal’s 38th Just For Laughs comedy festival will be all-virtual and free this year, the Montreal Gazette reported. The event on Oct. 9 and 10 will feature multiple virtual comedy rooms, panels, and podcast tapings. More than 100 artists are taking part, including JFL co-owner Howie Mandel, Sarah Cooper, Kevin Hart, Chelsea Handler, and Judd Apatow. More details are available at JFL’s website.
  • Enduring wiseguys: Martin Scorsese’s gangster flick “Goodfellas” turned 30 last month. Glenn Kenny’s new book “Made Men” provides a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, which chronicled the rise and fall of mobster Henry Hill. Some of the more interesting gems include a push to cast Tom Cruise as lead and Madonna as Karen Hill, collider.com reports in the article “‘Goodfellas’: 10 Things You Never Knew About Scorsese’s Masterpiece Revealed in New Book.”

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Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

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